July 12th, 2024

Downtown BRZ to ask for budget approval

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on March 14, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Downtown Lethbridge Business Revitalization Zone will be asking the Economic and Finance Standing Policy Committee today to recommend city council approve its 2024 budget.

The committee, which meets at 1:30 p.m. in council chambers, consists of Mayor Blaine Hyggen and all members of council.

The BRZ has proposed a five per cent increase on its budget from 2023 for a total of $250,215. With City expenses included, the requested budget amounts to $266,798.47.

The recommendation of Crystal Scheit, Urban Revitalization manager, who is submitting the budget, is that the SPC recommend it be approved.

Doing so will allow the Downtown Business Improvement Area “to maintain the current operating level to the businesses that are members of the DBIA,” says the submission to be presented to the SPC.

Delaying budget approval would delay the annual tax rate bylaw approval, which the submission says, would necessitate amendments to two bylaws for compliance with the Municipal Government Act and Payments Canada Regulations, Rule H1 – Pre-Authorized Debits because of delays in the tax notice mail-out.

One member of the public has, as of presstime, submitted correspondence to the SPC on the proposed budget.

Mary Tokarski, who owns buildings in several areas of the city, in her letter to the SPC says she isn’t happy about paying a levy to the BRZ on top of property taxes.

“I am very disappointed in having to pay the DBRZ a levy on top of the property taxes I pay. So far, nothing good has come from my contribution to this organization, and I feel the money would be better spent on cleaning up the downtown. My tenants have to be constantly vigilant when entering and leaving the building, and customers need to be buzzed in to access some of the businesses in the building. Leaving the main door unlocked has caused so many problems (people sleeping in the stairwells, taking drugs, panhandling, defecating on the premises), we have had to increase the security to our building.

Tokarski adds “the DBRZ is supposed to ‘advocate for the downtown businesses’, but we haven’t seen any positive results.”

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